Back to the World
by James Shaffer
Table of Contents|
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
Johnnie Rae Piper is born in a tarpaper house outside Amarillo, in the Texas Panhandle, in 1950. His mom raises and home-schools Johnnie while his father, Tom, is off fighting in the Korean War. When Tom comes home, he’s changed: he has drinking and gambling addictions.
In 1969, an unlucky number in the draft lottery sends Johnnie to Vietnam. When he returns home, a year and half later, he finds he has exchanged one set of problems for another. A local loan shark is putting the muscle on Tom, and the criminal organization is widespread. Johnnie tries to help his father, with the aid of three cowgirls: Darlene, Jamie Sue and Kelly Jo. All of them are in for a wild ride.
I got into my room and locked the door behind me. I had to find a place to stash the money. I couldn’t just leave it in the backpack, and I couldn’t take it with me, if we were going out.
The obvious places were out of the question. I looked in the bathroom. There was a radiator cover flush against the wall on one side. I scoped it out.
The cover popped off easily revealing a radiator inset into a wall space. It was a design feature, recessed so it wouldn’t take up precious space in the tiny bathroom. The wall space above the radiator was empty. I reached up and felt a ledge behind the front wall made by a horizontal two-by-four.
I grabbed the backpack off the bed and hurried back into the bathroom. With the door locked behind me, I pulled out the gun and laid it on top of the toilet lid. Then I removed half the cash from one of the bundles and stuffed it in my jeans pocket. I’d need some pocket money.
I couldn’t just stuff the bag up in the space; anyone looking would see it. I dumped the remaining contents of the bag on the bathroom floor and sorted out the bundles of cash. They fit perfectly on the ledge behind the wall. There weren’t that many. The bill denominations were twenties or larger. I managed to stand the ledger on its end in an empty space next to the cash. If anyone looked up into the space, they wouldn’t see a thing.
After I replaced the radiator cover, I grabbed the gun and threw my clothes and backpack on the bed. I took out a lightweight jacket, slipped it on, and dropped the gun into the right-hand pocket. I was ready to go. I opened the door and there stood Jamie Sue.
“You’re in a big hurry, cowboy.” She put a hand on my chest and gently pushed me back into the room. She looked around. My backpack was sitting on the bed. She looked back at me. “I bet you haven’t even showered yet.”
“Ah, no, I thought we were going out for that cold beer,” I offered in explanation. She closed the door and turned the lock.
“You know what? My shower’s not working. Mind if I use yours?” She headed straight for the bathroom, not giving me a chance to answer. She paused halfway through the bathroom door. “I’m hot and sweaty.”
I sat on the foot of the bed. She’d left the bathroom door open a crack. A minute later I heard the shower running. Steam seeped from the crack in the bathroom door and trailed along the ceiling above the bed. I watched it for about two seconds then pulled off my boots and socks. The rest of my clothes fell at my feet.
Naked, I pushed open the bathroom door and stepped inside. I recognized her pink panties sprawled on the bathroom floor. Jamie Sue’s mottled shape bled through the shower door’s pebbled glass.
I pulled open the door and stepped in behind her. She acted like she didn’t hear me. Her back was to me and her face was upturned toward the water’s spray. I grabbed the soap from the dish and started to wash her back. When I did, she spread her arms, placed each hand flat on the shower wall in front of her and pushed back against me.
Ignoring the invite, I continued to wash her back. Then she straightened, reached around, grabbed my right hand and guided it like you would a blind man’s. She laid her head back on my shoulder and shouted above the pounding spray. “You missed a spot.” She guided my hand downward. Then she gasped.
I was right. She was the generous type.
After her hot shower, Jamie Sue grabbed her clothes and tiptoed back to her room. That’s the way you walk when you’re only wearing a towel.
Copyright © 2015 by James Shaffer